under                                                       water  under ocean                                under water                                                    unpredictable   underneath        seeking for water not the wave     water blue, light blue        sweet heroic blue watery eyes         calm and uncertain   a tangle of sweet seaweed twists around an unexpected outcropping underwater         very low and far underneath   undoubtedly jewelry on neck and wrists shoelaces untied are ill advised when you inquire into the underside   best wear expensive perfume brush your hair numerous times so no one will be uneasy nor will you have to explain anything when they catch sight of you wounded by a fishbone underwater   underneath         under water  

Any Instructions for Dying?

I have been contemplating this
Harmlessness, this giving up
On the sea of all words
Will I be all there when it is time?
In that moment, fully present
Shit! I am going to die
Will I curl up in a ball
Or sit up ramrod straight
Eyes half closed as if in meditation
In no time at all
~ I have skewed myself for too long
Will there be no blame or feeling sorry?
Will I know that I am
Unheard of?

On a day

When the wind is unpredictable
you breathe air from my blue eyes
I say nothing
drink sky droplets
as if the Beloved and you
are my flesh and blood.

With a bright orange rake
you summon dead leaves
as if sweeping a monk’s skirt
remove poem sheets
stack them into a palimpsest
to write anew about love.

tomorrow, may it never come,
when your aging handsome face
unruly eyebrows and sag of mouth
will be cut with scissors straight into
your lips for a pomegranate smile.

Only then will I lick
the luminescent red drops
escaped into my heart.

Poetry books aftermath

I just finished two limited edition hand-sewn poetry books, Vodka Musings & Cloud Poems and High in the Andes, Book One. (That means there will be a Book Two one day, right?) An accomplishment for sure, it took over two years of talking about the books. I wrote lines of words onto ecological sugarcane paper to re-perceive the ordinary, to linger in the diverse. I worked hard, edited, hand sewed, signed and numbered each edition of 100 books of both volumes. I was gloating for weeks, but now I sit with these beautiful books in boxes. I have created more stuff. I make sure the books have plastic on top of them in case Thelonious the cat wants to get in there and rustle my words and images. Or in case there is a flood behind my eyes.

In the aftermath, I feel like a faithful fool to words and images; my lines have been cut off, my poetry has been shortened to commas and periods and very long naps.

Today I force myself into the studio to write. I find words like diluculum and crepusculum, dawn and evening twilight, words related to lucidus, bright, and creper, dusky. William James talked about the crespuscular depths of personality, the source of all our deeds and where decisions take their rise. Crepuscular depths? Maybe I have sunk too far or perhaps not far enough.  I do not want to fall into the dark hole of no body, no words, no images, but perhaps a culum, a diminutive suffix for twilight can be encouraging, morning and evening. At daybreak I may be able to reenter that stream, even if my eyes are puffy and my brain got left behind during the night.  In between diluculum and crepusculum I can bake bread, eat my spicy soup, drink strong coffee, eat chocolate superballs, sit and write nonsense until evening twilight when I can have my cocktail and edit.

Rhythm is Everywhere

Rhythm is not by its own nature
versed in iambic pentameters
to echo perfect pink clouds

Perhaps rhythm is a small triangle
of sea blue sky, at the edge
of a darkened horizon

Or a hiccup probing gently
while I catch my breath
between running rivers

Or rainwater in the stem
of a fragrant red rose
releasing its perfume

But when my heart goes too fast
I forget-shamelessly
the earth does not pause

for my second-hand
for my body to keep time
for my right leg to stop trembling


When unbearable hard drums
reverberate daily rhythms
and prayers are without color

When superstitions are chanted and stitched
carelessly on my underpants
with a large safety pin

When inebriations have gone too far
my lips of fear do not sing
my breath tilts backwards

In that moment of muteness
I unwind my helixes one by one
ever so lightly

Its intricate uncurling rests
near my open window
in a wind circle of lilting voices

Just before late afternoon, unwound
and unwrinkled I travel on foot – fearless –
between rhythms everywhere

If the Razor Freezes

She does not care if the razor freezes
in a heart beat and when slowness
of yesterday or the day before
becomes all the same

She does not shudder when hard rain splits
unstable earth and loosens big stones
She forgives herself – for her trespasses
for seeing all the same

Her useless mouth opens, closes,
nothing “but this”,
wherever she goes
beads leave a trail
when she fingers her pearls

Fish and Song

The end of May
mid morning, air cool, a bit windy
bicyclists ring high pitch bells
to alert pedestrians
for my safety
I twist my neck
in a constant painful knot

I wait to cross the street
on the corner
of the Kloveniersburgwal
of the Nieuwe Markt
to a very narrow fish shop
wedged between two
sixteenth century pack houses
This is where I buy my fish.

I hear his voice loud
I hear the bicycle rattle,
loose bumpers,D-minor,
I make out Eastern European
words and song.

Then I see him
He is tall, late forties, blue eyes
curly salt and pepper hair
He sits on his saddle
as if in a straight-backed chair
high above the handle bar, peddling hard
moving his body strong, right to left
He flies by me, his ballad
bringing up the rear.

What opera is he singing?

I enter the fish shop
only wide enough
for the fish man,
another customer and me.
Cod, sockeye salmon,
octopus, shrimp, langoustines,
crab, oysters, swordfish,
mackerel, sole, sardines,
long-tailed squid, and herring
are piled up high on ice.

I shoulder past the burly fish man
with his bloody rubber apron
red cheeks and a large fish
in his huge hands.
The fish strokes scales
into my hair.
Shocked I ask for fish prices.

Look lady the prices are all there.
In this shop sales are quickly done,
cod packaged, in hand, with a number
to pay the woman cashier.
In and Out.
But I long for more time
to smell and admire the fish
My back to the exit
the woman shoves a small cooked squid
into my mouth, I swallow fleshy
squid sand between my teeth.

The next day I hear
a free lunchtime concert
at the Amsterdam Concert Gebouw.
Hungarian choral music,
gloriously sung
by a hundred men and women,
their songs invite Zoltán Kodály,
Lajos Bárdos, and Béla Bartók
into my belly.

There and then I know
my tall bicyclist is here
singing about night, morning
gypsies eating Cirak cheese
baked ham, beet horseradish
and kabeljauw
their thick tongues,
red from Carpethian wine
purged in the morning
with strong coffee and new appetites.

The bicyclist’s voice brushes over me
tomorrow if I go back
to the narrow fish store
on the Kloveniersburgwal
I can refresh my memory
of a tall man riding his bike
singing about life
and filleted cod fish.